Here's what the planet looks like right now: We're pumping out 10 billion tons of carbon a year, we're looking at a massive climate shift before the end of the century and we're probably bringing about the sixth great extinction. Surprise!
New reports from the journals Nature Geoscience and Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics showed how, even with our efforts to curb global warming and keep emissions low, we humans are still dooming the planet we stand on.
More specifically, we're talking superstrong storms and hunks of the polar ice sheets fracturing off, effectively raising the sea level enough to drown coastal cities. It would effectively turn New York into an aquarium.
According to James E. Hansen, a retired NASA climate scientist who led the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics research, "We're in danger of handing young people a situation that's out of their control."
This news comes less than a month after researchers published an article in the journal Nature Climate Change saying humans need to cut their future greenhouse gas emissions roughly in half. Even this week, climate scientists warned the planet is getting dangerously close to the tipping point of being unable to curb the effects of climate change.
Super-strong storms. Hunks of the polar ice sheets fracturing off, effectively raising the sea level enough to drown coastal cities. Bye-bye, NYC.
According to researchers on the Nature Geoscience study, what's happening now to our world looks remarkably similar to what's called the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum — an ancient planetary-warming event from around the time of dinosaurs.
After a spike in carbon emissions from the planet, the PETM was marked by a steep rise in Earth's overall temperature and the loss of many species due to floods, droughts, storms and an acidification of the ocean — so this connection should be terrifying to us.
As a global community, we're getting to the point where, no matter what we do, we'll be screwed. But we still have some time. If climate scientists and politicians can make dramatic changes to how we live our lives — for instance, cutting those greenhouse emissions in half — then we might stand a chance at making it to the year 2100 without the East Coast turning into the set from Waterworld.